Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wordless Wednesday...or not

Well I don't have a picture to post yet.  I need to let my camera charge. But we had an AWESOME time at my son's first major league ball game at Yankee Stadium.  He was so into it, clapping, chanting, dancing and even figuring out the pragmatic language (like why when the pitcher named Joba (prounanced Jabba as in Jabba the Hut) would get Star Wars like graphics on the big screen when he struck someone out.)

It was a great game, even better now that my son knows more about the game.

He did AWESOME on the overly crowded subway, even when it got loud. I asked him if he needed to cover his ears, he said no because it was Yankee talk, and that's okay.  :) He was thrilled when another subway rider who was also a Yankee fan offered him a piece of gum. (his weakness) even better when I said it was okay.

My flavor loving child was thrilled when I said yes to the order of garlic fries (and they did not dissapoint). 

I think his biggest thrill was not how awesome our seats were, but when I adjusted the resolution on my camera so we could take photos of the field. Then zoom in. He got great shots of his idol...Derek Jeter.

The bus ride back from the city was filled with Yankee facts ascertained from his prized souvenier...a Yankee program magazine.

Once my camera charges I'll post a pic or two of my thrilled child at Yankee Stadium, or at least one of the photos he took.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Another Almost Wordless Wednesday

This photo is actually almost difficult to look at, it was taken less than a month after my father passed away. We had an extremely difficult 13 months as he hung on for life (the last 6 months on hospice). There were so many things that my son saw at 5 and  6 years old that no child should ever have to see. But he also saw how hard I advocated on my father's behalf and in effect my mother's behalf to, even if it meant calling the county sheriff to file a formal complaint against a nurse for patient abuse. Fortunately for us, most of the local hospital management remembered me from when I worked there 10 years prior. You see, I had a reputation for ALWAYS putting the patient first, even if it meant I may have to "speak" to administration for stepping on a nurse's toes due to a perceived power struggle. (Since patient care & satisfaction was always my goal & result I never received a formal reprimand or even an informal reprimand in my 7 years at the hospital for making patient care a priority).  Anyhow, of course being the only child who stayed near my parents I went through the whole 13 month old ordeal at my parents' side while my siblings tended to their own lives out of state.  When there were problems that my mother couldn't handle at the medical facilities, I'd get a note that my mom would be taking out my son for dinner and that I needed to sit with my father (who was in a coma).  I'd go and rabble rouse at the hospital or nursing home to ensure my parent's needs were met. In the end, my son & I were at my father's bedside with my mother, when dad finally passed. I had to make the arrangements with the funeral home, and I will be forever thankful to the funeral director for his grace, compassion, and understanding at that most difficult time.

Anyhow, my mom needed a day out and she always loved the beach. One of the ONLY things that could make my mother smile during that most difficult time was my son. Not even my nieces and nephews had the same effect. Even now 2 years later, my son still has the same effect on my mother (though sometimes she acts like an 8 year old boy along with him).  We were walking and exploring on a trail in the county park. They went ahead of me. I found them hiding in the grasses exploring the shoreline. They didn't know I caught up to them so I was able to get this (and a few other) photo. It was like peace after a very long ordeal.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Thoughtful Tuesday--Rainbows and angels...

Some people think that children with Asperger's do not know empathy and compassion. That is so not true with my son.  Though sometimes he is in his own world, he is aware of others. Whether he knows what to do with the empathetic emotions is another thing.

My father was dying. I needed to know how to prepare my son. My pediatrician at the time simply said, "I know you are a good mom. You'll know what to say and how to say it."  Jeez, how do you explain death to a 6 year old? I tried the children's desk at the library but there were no appropriate books for his age level.  I guess if it's not a pet people ignore the death.  (I was determined to make my son understand and remember his grandfather. I was 8 when my maternal grandfather died, my memory is that my mom cried a lot and he was gone. No explanation. Until I was MUCH older. )

In the week before my father's death we found a dead bird in front of my parents' house. My son and I buried it in the yard. I explained about death and how some people are buried in the ground. Later that week we passed a cemetery. He asked what it was and why there were such nice rocks there. (Rocks are one of my son's obsessions.) I explained what a cemetery was and why there were "rocks" there. He asked me what would happen to Grumpa when he died. (My son was there for the entire time my father was ill and dying and when he was finally placed on hospice. We had already talked about my father 'going to heaven.') I didn't know what else to say, so I told him the truth. Grumpa wanted to be cremated. I explained that since Grandpa was going to heaven when he died, he didn't want his body buried in the earth like the bird. He wanted to be turned to ash. (This was enough of an explanation for my son. Thank goodness.)

Anyhow, my father passed away early on a Sunday morning. My mother, my son and I were at his bedside. My one sister was there too. When we finally got home, it poured rain and stormed. It was like the heavens were crying with us. We made phone calls to notify those who needed to know about dad.

In the evening, my mother asked us all to go to Mass together. I remember sitting in the pew trying not to cry. Everything there reminded me of him. My poor son knew we were sad, and understood about my father. He was very touch seeking and sought to rub my arm for comfort. I am the opposite and when he strokes my arm it gives me the creeps. But I knew he needed the sensation for self-regulation, so I 'tolerated' it. I even made sure he had a piece of satin ribbon for his pocket in case my arm wasn't nearby. It was tough as the usher was a family friend, I could tell he was going to ask about my dad. When my mom tearfully burst out "(My husband) died early this morning". I guess she figured being proactive she wouldn't be asked many questions. My son squeezed her hand right before she spoke, and held it until the end of Mass.  This was the grounding that she needed, especially since this was the first time she said that my father died out loud.

The rain finally stopped as Mass ended.  In the Catholic Church, the Mass ends with "Let us go in peace to love and serve the Lord."  We felt a bit better. As we walked out of Church, my son saw a rainbow in the sky.  As we drove back to my parents' house, the rainbow seemed to follow us. My son pointed this out to us all.  When we got out of the car, we again saw the rainbow over the trees. We all turned to walk into the house, but my son stopped us all. He grabbed my mother's hand, pointed to the rainbow and said "Look at the rainbow. Grandpa is going to Heaven now."

When we turned, there was a small cloud that strongly resembled angel wings slowly moving up the edge of the rainbow.  I will never forget this. I even snapped a photo with my ever present camera. And yes, you can see the small cloud wings traveling up the rainbow in the successive shots.

I looked over to my mother to see if it was too upsetting for her. Instead I saw a calm look on her face and a small smile. I couldn't even shed a tear (though as I type this I am crying, trying to not short out my computer), I too felt at peace.

Once again, my son (who at the time was not diagnosed) was able to sooth us all. This time he knew right what to say...

(Side note: my father's ashes sit in a box on my parents' headboard and have ever since the funeral director delivered them to the house.  When my son is asked about his father figure/grandfather he now tells them, matter of fact "Oh my grandpa, he is in a box on the shelf." I don't even bother to explain anymore other than to tell the inquirer "He's right.")

Saturday, July 10, 2010

My son has a experiment in saying yes

My son has wanted a Mohawk haircut for a few years now. The closest we got before was sides trimmed shorter than the top. Those were meant to be a spiky hair, but he wold always style the spikes in a Mohawk-like stripe down the middle of his head.

Little Boy Blue turned 8 last Saturday. I decided to do something different. Many parent magazines lately have been publishing articles on parents saying yes instead of no all the time.  It's often easy to say No. Which inevitably turns to "But Wh-yy-hy", and then "Because I am mom and I said no".  I figured since it was his birthday and we weren't having a party this year (partly because his birthday falls on a holiday weekend and we live near the beach so traffic is a nightmare, partly because most of his friends are now busier and most likely wouldn't be able to attend due to other commitments). So I decided to give my son the gift of "Yes" (within reasons--no chance of him getting a yes to things like driving the car, sitting in the front, no seat belt, or no helmet when on bike,scooter or skateboard).

It started on Friday night. Even though I knew he was exhausted I agreed that we could go out to dinner with my mom. I didn't realize that he ate 5 mini cupcakes just before we left but it didn't hurt anyone so I would have said yes anyway. We went to Red Lobster (I wanted to go somewhere else but it was the start of "yes" so we went to his choice). Normally he gets a non-soda beverage. I said yes to the Red Rockin' Shirley T (Sprite & grenadine with maraschino cherries). He usually orders popcorn shrimp and a baked potato. He wanted French Fries (guess what the answer was?)  He wanted me to order his food (normally he has to verbally ask the server to improve his linguistic skills) and it was yes again. Since he was full from the cupcakes, he wanted to take his food home for "later". I didn't get upset that he really didn't eat much, yet wanted a refill on soda. But I said "yes", and it was tough to do.

On Saturday morning he wanted to sit around watching TV for a while. (Yes again--especially since this is a rare request). Blue wanted to go to Wawa for breakfast except he wanted a cookie, a brownie & a chocolate shake for breakfast. Yes, yes and yes again. He wanted to get a haircut....I said yes...then he told me he wanted a Mohawk. Yes. He wanted to go to Big League Barbers (his new favorite place). We compromised by getting it very closely buzzed on the sides. The stylist even colored the spikes green.

I think it looks rather cute. It turns out to be a very sensory haircut. He likes the feel of the buzzed sides, he likes the flop of the longer hair. He can now wear his goggles for swim class as there is no longer hair to get caught in the band.  He is actually thinking about buzzing the back and then the top off later. He likes that there is no hair in his eyes or on his ears...
I almost think he likes the flop of the top the most. It does look really cute. Besides who did it hurt by saying yes? He is happy. He'll have a memory (and now photos) that he can show his cousins & future children about the year his mom said yes to a Mohawk haircut.
Of course after the haircut, we had to go show my mother. We caught her in the parking lot. I think she nearly fainted when she saw him. I told her about the day of yes. Her response? Good luck with that, it's not an easy thing to do.

Next we went to the mall. We stopped at Old Navy. We needed to get some short sleeved and tank tops and perhaps another pair of shorts.  He wanted flip flops (he's been wearing Crocs lately). I said yes. I mean really who cares if he has two different flip flops, besides it seems that's the style. While I searched for his size, he found the giant gumball-like machines. Excitedly he asked for a quarter. Normally I say no, seriously we don't need more crap in our car or home. So this one time I said yes. He got a funny rubber Frisbee and of course asked for another quarter.  My son has always been obsessed with all things balls. He wanted ANOTHER bouncy ball. I said yes. Fortunately I had no more quarters for a third round. I needed to run a couple of other errands. We passed by the Picture People.

There was a new associate asking if he wanted to get a free picture. He looked at me questioningly...and I said yes.  I must say the photos came out pretty cool. Fortunately I asked him to change his clothing and his bright blue skateboard shirt matched his bright blue crocs. Even with a zillion Silly Bandz on his wrist (another yes--normally he's limited to 3 on each arm because he will obsess about having them in the right order & position on his arm), he looked like such a big boy in the photos. I even bought a sheet or two.

Next we stopped at Children's Place. He picked a couple of crazy shirts, including a dark purple Hawaiian-style shirt. Yes again. This was an easy yes as they were having a monster sale, he needed the extras and it cost so little.

Of course next he was starving. He asked if we could go to Auntie Anne's.  They had samples of their pepperoni pizza pretzel. It's a premium pretzel that costs a bit more, but I said "Yes". He was THRILLED.  He wanted to stop at the Disney Store. He is now fascinated by the Muppets (more so by the fact that I know ALL their names and can mimic some of the voices). He found a Muppet tote bag and t-shirt. And guess what....Yes again.  Though some of the requests were tough, it's actually kind of fun to saying yes.

Next door was Build A Bear workshop. He wanted 4 stuffed dogs, a stuffed baseball, and 4 Zhu Zhu pets. I didn't say no but I told him he had to ask Grandma (who I knew would say no) because they'd have to stay at her house since Roxie likes to 'play' with the toy hamsters & stuffed animals. (By play I mean eat)

We had to run into Bath & Body Works. The semi-annual sale was in full swing. He wanted not one but two "hanitizer" (hand sanitizer) holders and three new hand sanitizers. Especially with the high value coupon we were given upon arrival, I said yes. Once we paid, he immediately assembled the silicone holders and hooked them onto his shorts.  Quite the sight I must say. Little boy with Mohawk hair cut with a tie-dyed silicone hand sanitizer on each hip, bright blue Tony Hawk t-shirt and bright blue Crocs.

One aside comment, I was rather impressed that every time someone said "Happy Birthday" to him he graciously said thank you with no prompting. He even voluntarily told those who inquired how old he was.

Our next stop was Target. He helped me find our needed items, then requested a small orange soft side cooler (since it could hold more ice packs). I did say yes, mostly because he was right--it would be good for baseball camp in the heat.

His only birthday request was for oil pastels (NOT chalk pastels) and paper.  So next we stopped at the craft store. Crayola makes a set of 24 oil pastels, he was sold on this set because it included silver & gold metallic pastels. Even though there was another set with more colors for the same price, the required silver & gold were not present. So I said yes...

His final request was to go to the boardwalk for dinner and ride the amusements.  Guess what I said...

Between the Mohawk haircut and the day of "yes" I think my son will remember his 8th birthday for years to come...

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Friday Funnies...

We've all been having a hard time lately. Between the troubles with Blue's school and like most of the world, money troubles, tough times are taking their toll.  Blue has been in baseball camp this week and having a blast with his equally silly buddies.  For Blue & his buddy D (a great friend because they both laugh at their own quirks. Good boys but very silly boys. Blue definitely does not feel awkward socially around D, who is very easy going), frozen washcloths are huge entertainment. Since it's been in the 90's and higher around here, I had to be creative with cooling off techniques. Of course boys + dirt= mess.

After their game played at the end of the camp day, both boys are filthy and hot. In comes mom with the frozen wash cloths. They were intrigued at first, because the washcloths were frozen solid. They liked the cooling, but prefered to make silly sculptures at the still frozen cloths. Even a bend in the cloth cracked them up. In a couple of mintues the cloths started to soften, so the boys decided to figure out the "best" place to put them. D put it on under his baseball cap--the flopped down cloth looked like dog ears. Riots of laughter. Blue not to be outdone, twisted the cloth into a bone shape and pranced around with it in his mouth. D was drinking and spit out his water he was laughing so hard.  This of course made them laugh even harder.  They couldn't even talk but had a language all their own, a simple look was all they needed to burst into another round of fits of giggles.

D's mom and I could only smile at the sight. At least they got some of the dirt off their faces and necks, and they were not so overheated. Two cheap wash clothes from Ikea, water & a freezer equals lots of fun for two 8 year olds. Silly boys.

That brings  me to last night. I have a "sod squad" grass pass pack for the local minor league baseball team. There was a game last night. Since D was going with is father, Blue wanted to go just in case he could find D. So I asked my mom if she wanted to go, she wasn't sure in the AM so I told her we'd call her later.

Around 5 o'clock Blue called my mom. I knew the answer wasn't what he wanted to hear because he handed me the phone and said I needed to talk. So I asked my mom what she said that he didn't like, this caused our own laughter since this is so typical of my son. If he calls my mom & she says no or whatever the unwanted response is magically he decides that I MUST talk to her, like I have magic powers to change her mind.  Last night I did, mom said she was going to mop the kitchen floor. My response was that we'd be there in 15 minutes. She reluctantly agreed.

Blue decided that I woudl be chaufferm, to my mom's chagrin at first. The two were cracking up at the photos on the grass pass tickets (they weren't that funny to the typical eye but apparently when you play I Spy with pictures it can be a riot). My mom even seatbelted herself in the back seat (she hates to do this but my son matter of factly informed her that the car will not start until she is buckled. Safety first.) We had a blast on the grassy hill. No one bumping into us to get out of the row. An unobstructed view of the field. Biggest "problem" was silly children running amok and that wasn't a problem since they were laughing and having fun. We left after the 8th inning, then the fun REALLY started. First my mom started flipping out that I was trying to decapitate her with the seat belt. She kept pulling on the belt, in effect locking it into position. It really was funny to watch in the rear view mirror. At the red light her seat belt released and she was fine. Since it was dark, they decided to play I Spy in the dark.  Since the car was moving, it's a difficult game to play. So they got silly and looked for obvious things. Like the red lights of the car in front of me.  At one point my son couldn't figure out what she was talking about and called the mystery object a "thingamawtchamacallit".  This of course cracked them both up. As they made up words for the "spied" objects that may or may not have actually existed.

In the end, my mom thanked me for "kidnapping" her. My son had a blast laughing with his grandmother.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Thankful & Thoughtful Thursday...the anniversary of a diagnosis

Since my son was a "late diagnosis" (he was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome/Disorder just after his 7th birthday a  year ago today) sometimes I am asked if I was blindsided by the diagnosis. 

My answer--not really. Though there is still a stigma attached at times to an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis, it's not the end of the world. I suspected my son was on the diagnosis since toddlerhood.  There were clues all along. I had odd insurance coverage and certain specialists and diagnoses were not covered (including almost anything in the DSM). Since my son had signs of sensory disregulation and Asperger's that can often mimic ADHD, his pediatrician asked if I'd be willing to try a stimulant medication to see if it would help. He wasn't officially diagnosed with ADHD (I don't remember what the pediatrician coded him with) but we tried the medication. It didn't do much other than make him more likely to cry and totally killed my kid's appetite. He was tall & slender, on the medication he became skinny and often would burst into tears for no obvious reason. I later found out that it was because he didn't need this type of medication, in fact he didn't really need medication, he needed accommodations & interventions such as occupational therapy. I don't fault his old pediatrician, he did what he could within the constraints of my insurance coverage and tried medical therapy that happened to not work....

When we switched pediatricians she said she didn't think he needed stimulant medication. He acted "typical' as far as 'hyper' activity--he was just an active boy. But she knew something wasn't exactly right but it was beyond her scope of practice so she referred us to a local developmental pediatrician. Unfortunately the developmental pediatrician said "known to have ADHD" though he shows no signs of ADHD and his Connors scale ratings were firmly within the average spectrum of a typical child.

At this point I was doing my own research and found the "Out of Sync Child" book by Carol Kranowitz. It was like a light bulb went on in my head.  THIS made sense. His pediatrician agreed, but she didn't feel comfortable making the diagnosis so she referred us to a specialty children's hospital and a neurologist who was an expert in sensory processing disorder (SPD).  Half way through first grade my son finally had a quality occupational therapy evaluation and he scored off the charts in all the sensory testing performed...looks like mom was right.  The school therapist was great, she gave me lots of resources and tasks to work on at home. She started a brushing protocol (which I had unknowingly been doing with a washcloth for months prior), introduced us to heavy work and therapeutic listening.

A bit of historical background on my son..
When he was a toddler & started walking there were signs of SPD and an ASD (autism spectrum disorder). He'd randomly lick the walls or start banging his head (it would freak out my dad, he commented once that he was showing autistic behaviors--this from a man who refers to diabetes as "sugar"). He had poor eye contact which drove me nuts because I was never sure he was listening to me.  The day care said it was "normal" at 2-3 years old to not have good eye contact. I knew better but I regret that I didn't do anything about it.  He wanted friends but would not always know what to do socially. He'd often play with the girls not only because they were less rough than the 'turn-everything-into-killer-dinosaur-or-tackle-sport' boys but they were more likely to tell him what he was expected to do.  My son had problems following multiple step directions, fine motor skills, on-task behavior, was touch, light and very sound sensitive.  I begged for help to refer him for evaluations, but the school pooh-poohed my concerns. I knew something wasn't right but I did not know where to turn. I did not know how to advocate for my son. My mother put blinders on (to this day she thinks I 'talk too much' and that I am 'ruining' my son by getting him an IEP.  She doesn't understand that I am advocating for & protecting my son.) When I had his first round of IEP evaluations, the school psychologist decided that he must be ADHD (even though she cannot legally make a diagnosis as she is not a legal psychologist nor a licensed professional counselor) and not surprisingly when she asked her consultants to evaluate him for ADHD they all came back with that diagnosis.  One psychiatrist did not even have any rating scales completed and couldn't even get how my son was born correctly. His evaluation consisted of asking my son to spell DOG which he spelled "G-O-D" and whether or not he was sad that my father (his grandfather) passed away--which of course was yes. So the 'doctor' diagnosed my son with ADHD (though he again showed no signs of ADHD during the evaluation and no Connors scale was completed) and probably depression (secondary to the death of my father).  I went with it, not knowing any better, since at least it qualified him for an individualized education plan.

As his education continued, his writing was poor & his expressive language skills did not improve. He struggled in school when there was not a set routine but random activities. He became more anxious, to the point that they labeled him as a "behavior" problem and an "emotional problem" because when he was frustrated or anxious he would escape unto himself and ignore the classroom aide who would badger him. When he would shut down, no work would get done. He was labeled as willfully disobediant, defiant, and oppositional.  (Even in second grade with the Asperger's diagnosis)

Then I found Wrightslaw and SPAN and a whole host of other resources.

Now last summer after a long 7 month wait, we finally had our appointment with the pediatric neurologist at the regional children's hospital.  (An affiliate of CHoP) . I brought a list of questions, discussed my observations of sensory issues (as well as those of the occupational therapist and his pediatrician). My son's insistence on routine was obvious when I accidentally shuffled the songs on my iPod and he flipped out because the songs "were not in the right order".  We discussed what I had seen in my son over the years (his  his obsessions with time and science and sports and rocks), his social awkwardness, his fine motor difficulties, his impaired social interaction & difficulty with eye contact. The doctor could assess his pragmatic language and expressive language difficulties on a small scale. The doctor even asked to look at my set of questions to make sure he answered them all.  At first I didn't want to bring copies of all the assessments from the school (I was afraid of biasing the doctor's opinion), but I gave them to the doctor after he evaluated my son and discussed my concerns. He then said to me, "Your son has Asperger's Disorder but I think you already knew that." He was right, I did. He went on to explain why Asperger's was more appropriate than ADHD, Childhood Disintigrative Disorder, PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder--Not otherwise specified), childhood anxiety, or High Functioning Autism. 

In the end I think his reference to the school reports and his explanation how Asperger's may often look like ADHD in certain circumstances

When the report came back to his then primary care pediatrician, we had an office visit. She too was not surprised that my son was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrom with sensory dysfunction. She suspected the diagnosis but felt that it was out of her scope of practice and expertise to diagnose. 

Sometimes I wonder if I could have had my son diagnosed earlier and perhaps got him into the "system" earlier such as early intervention or the preschool disabled program.  But I cannot keep worrying about the past, I can only go forward and work on today and tomorrow. Sure I saw signs of autism, social difficulties, and linguistic deficits for a long time, but I was not confident in my own parenting assessment and advocacy skills.  I cannot change the past. I can use my past experiences to help others. In fact I am thankful for my past experiences as it has made me stronger and a much better advocate for my son and others like him. 

Its funny now because when I meet certain people and professionals they are often in awe of my knowledge base and the vigor I fight for my child's needs.  I have had other parents call me for advice and tips to advocate for their child. If they only knew what I went through, how many tears of frustration were shed.

I was inspired to write this narrative by a post I found on the Thinking Person's Guide to Autism blog called The Keeper: A Tale of Late-Childhood Asperger's Diagnosis.  I realized that I was not alone.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My Almost Wordless Wednesday..beautiful butterflies!

I wish I had my camera with my this morning when I dropped my son off at baseball camp. He wanted me to take a "breathtaking" (his words) picture of the sun rays beaming through the clouds over the field.  It was truly a beautiful sight that I am sure won't exist when I return after lunch to pick him up.

Anyhow, his class took a field trip to the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, one of the stops was the butterfly room. Even though it was 80F with like 1000% humidity, the beauty made up for the sweat produced.  My son was fascinated not only but the up close and personal look at butterflies, their chrysalis, and the poison dart frogs, but also the beauty of the vegetation. These are two of the butterfly shots we took. Sometimes if you stood still, the butterflies would come and sit on your shirt or arm or backpack, or leg.

Tomorrow hopefully I can get my son to sit still long enough to snap a picture, but my son got a sensory friendly haircut. You just have to see it.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Forth of July....

July 3rd my son turned 8.  For quite some time my son has been asking for a faux-mohawk haircut. Well he got his wish on Saturday morning. Even cooler the girl who gave him his first haircut at 15 months was working (different shop but same stylist). She commented how much he has grown & changed.  When he had his first haircut (and for sometime after) my son was deathly afraid of vibrations. Since he has a lot of hair thanks to genetics, it would take forever to scissor cut his har and the clippers were much faster. We had figured out a way that I'd hold his head still & she'd clip--very quickly I might add. He screamed, but was much happier when he got a lollipop at the end. Now he doesn't mind the clipper, especially if he gets color added (usually green) to his final style. It's tough for him as he has to look straight ahead--into the mirror (not his favorite place to look).

He looks adorable. I'm still questioning my judgement, but I figure we could always buzz the strip if necessary. 

Sunday was the townwide Forth of July parade. Dogs dress up. People dress up. Bikes, scooters & wagons are decorated. The firetrucks & ambulance participate. At the end is a "comfort station" manned by the borough recreation committee stocked with themed trinkets, ice cold water & lemonade and patriotic ice pops.  My son found a few of his friends participating. He went off with the front of the pack as I stayed behind to march with my crazy dogs.  My puggle was worn out (it was 95F in the shade!) and my chihuahua (being very heat tolerant) was thrilled with the chance to strut his stuff. Since the firetrucks blare their horns & sirens, my sound sensitive son went to the front (about 3 blocks ahead of the trucks) to dampen the sound. At least the trucks are smart enough not to blow their horns near the end of the route. His bike helmet helped to dampen the sounds.  He did an awesome job on his scooter decorations (purchased the night before for 50-75% off for a total under $5).

After we cooled my son & the dogs off, we picked up a buddy and headed to the movies. We always sit in the back so the picture isn't too large on the screen and the sound isn't too much. The best part is that the elderly couple sitting in front of us looked disappointed when we sat behind them, but complimented my son and his buddy on their good behavior at the end of the movie.  After dinner at Chili's we played for a while at my mom's house.  Fireworks were tolerable, as this year we went to the beach between TWO displays. We were far enough away that the "booms" were more like finger snapping. No sensory overload or meltdowns for my son. Though I am concerned about his social skills. Due to the treatment by a few opportunistic bullies (who are slick enough to appear well behaved in school, but didn't fool the parents who lead our scout den at camp--the one other mom declared this boy a mean spirited little annoyance. I felt validated that she saw what I did without my pointing it out.) He tries to dominate his shorter friends, fortunately this buddy is pretty smart & a good sport (though he too has his crabby moments). I gave him some tips to help my son be a better friend, such as telling him exactly what is wrong like "when you call my name like that you sound like my father. You aren't my dad, you're my friend."  Social skills group doesn't start for another week. Hopefully I can undo the damage from 2nd grade at the school from hell in the mean time...